David Salle

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David Salle
Born1952 (age 65–66)
Norman, Oklahoma
NationalityUnited States American
EducationCalifornia Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California - BFA (1973), MFA (1975)
Known forPainting, Printmaking, Set Design, Photography, Sculpture, Film
MovementContemporary art, Postmodernism, Neo-expressionism
AwardsGuggenheim Fellowship (1986)

David Salle (born 1952) is an American painter, printmaker, and stage designer who helped define postmodern sensibility.[citation needed] Salle was born in Norman, Oklahoma. He earned a BFA and MFA from the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California where he studied with John Baldessari.[1] Salle’s work first came to public attention in New York in the early 1980s.


His paintings and prints comprise what appear to be randomly juxtaposed images, or images placed on top of one other with deliberately ham-fisted techniques. At a 2005 lecture, Salle stated:

When I came to New York in the 70s, it was common not to expect to be able to live from your art. I had very little idea about galleries or the business side of the art world. It all seemed pretty distant. When people started paying attention to my work, it seemed so unlikely that somehow it wasn't so remarkable. I made my work for a small audience of friends, other artists mostly, and that has not really changed. At the same time, having shows is a way of seeing if the work resonates with anyone else. Having that response, something coming back to you from the way the work is received in the world, can be important for your development as an artist. But you have to take it with healthy skepticism... I still spend most days in my studio, alone, and whatever happens flows from that.[2]

Major exhibitions of his work have taken place at the Whitney Museum of American Art[3] in New York, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Castello di Rivoli (Torino, Italy), and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. In March 2009 a group of fifteen paintings were shown at the Kestnergesellschaft Museum in Hannover, Germany. That same year Salle's work was also featured in an exhibition titled The Pictures Generation curated by Douglas Eklund at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York [1], in which his work was shown amongst a number of his contemporaries including Richard Prince, Sherrie Levine, Cindy Sherman, Nancy Dwyer [2], Robert Longo, Thomas Lawson, Charles Clough and Michael Zwack.

Other work[edit]

David Salle also turned his hand to set and costume design, and to directing mainstream cinema. In 1986, Salle received a Guggenheim Fellowship for theater design, and in 1995 he directed the feature film, Search and Destroy, starring Griffin Dunne and Christopher Walken [3]. He is a longtime collaborator with the choreographer Karole Armitage as he designs sets and costumes for many of her ballets.[4]

He is also a prolific writer on art. His essays and reviews have appeared in Artforum, Art in America, Modern Painters, The Paris Review, Interview, as well as numerous exhibition catalogs and anthologies. He was a regular contributor for Town & Country Magazine. His collection of critical essays, How to See, was published by W.W. Norton in 2016.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Salle currently lives and works in Sagaponack, New York.


Salle's work can be found in the permanent collections of numerous art museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, among others.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Smith, Roberta, "Tweaking Tradition, Even in Its Temple", review of John Baldessari show, The New York Times, October 21, 2010 (October 22, 2010 p. C21 NY ed.). Retrieved 2010-10-22.
  2. ^ Voices of Experience: David Salle, ART + AUCTION, September 2005, retrieved 2008-04-17
  3. ^ Smith, Roberta, "How David Salle Mixes High Art and Trash", review of David Salle mid-career retrospective, The New York Times, January 23, 1987. Retrieved 2011-1-16.
  4. ^ http://www.armitagegonedance.org/support/art-for-sale/david-salle
  5. ^ Stein, Lorin (September 19, 2016). "The Quotable David Salle". The Paris Review. Retrieved September 3, 2018.

External links[edit]

David Salle Writings

Additional information on David Salle including artworks, text panels, articles and full biography